How To Make An Archery Target: Step by Step Guide

How To Make An Archery Target: Step By Step Guide

If you’re practicing archery, one of the first things you’ll need is a target.

Although you can buy a target, it’s probably a better idea to make one yourself. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be too difficult to do.

What’s the benefit of making your own archery target?

You’ll be able to customize it and also practice as much as you need to, in your own location. Having your own target will enable you to do that and possibly save you money.

Although you might think that you can just use any old item as an archery target, this isn’t a good idea.

Let’s look at why followed by a step-by-step guide on how to make your own targets.

We’ve outlined some of the best archery targets, with some pros and cons included so you can see exactly which method is worth your while.

Three Reasons Why You Need An Archery Target

Five Different Archery Targets

Should you just use empty milk bottles as a target? Perhaps some clay pots will be good to shoot?

Rather don’t! Although these are often seen in movies, they’re not good for use in real life. Here’s why a proper archery target is worth making.

  • It’s safer. You don’t want to play around with your bow and arrow. An arrow is really sharp and it travels far distances as well as at a high speed, so you don’t want to accidentally harm someone with it. Best to treat it in the same way as you would a weapon. It’s much safer to shoot at a specific target that will provide a soft landing for that sharp arrow, instead of shooting any old item that could cause you to harm or damage your arrows.
  • It prevents damage to your arrows. While your arrows might seem strong, they can still get damaged when shot at various targets. That’s why you need to protect them by shooting them into the right items. Carbon arrows are already prone to shattering when they make an impact, which can be dangerous, so you don’t want to risk injury by choosing the incorrect archery target. But all types of arrows should be treated with care.
  • It makes you a more accurate shot. If you’re shooting at various items around you, you won’t get the proper measure of how well you’re shooting. A target that you’ve constructed correctly will show you exactly where you’re shooting and how you can improve your shot. For example, are you shooting a little too much to the left of the bullseye, or perhaps you keep hitting the target too high? By knowing this information, you can tweak your shooting and become a better archer.

Should You Just Buy An Archery Target?

While it’s very convenient to purchase archery targets, and you can definitely find many different types whether, in stores or online, it can be better to make your own one.

That said, let’s look at the pros and cons of buying archery targets.

Buying An Archery Target

Man Holding The Bow

Pros

  • You get a quick solution to your archery needs. You can choose targets from a variety of sources and there are lots of interesting targets out there, such as 3D animal targets.
  • There are lots of reviews of archery target products out there, which can make it even easier to locate the ones that are durable and long-lasting in a snap.
  • If you’re not creative, you might think to purchase your own targets is your best bet.

Cons

  • If you purchase all your archery targets, you miss out on an opportunity to save money and upcycle old items in the house that you don’t use anymore.
  • You’re never guaranteed of the strength and durability of the targets you’re buying. When you make them yourself, you’re more in control of the whole process, from what materials you use in their construction to how strong and effective they are.
  • You might find that you have to spend quite a bit of money to get quality archery targets from stores or online. That can be a waste because with a bit of creativity, you can easily make the best archery targets, and you really don’t need to be good with your hands.
  • Of course, if you’re good with your hands and creative, then all the more reason to make your own targets. Imagine what fun, interesting targets you could produce! If you have your own archery target at home, you could really make it look amazing and fun to use.

Ready to make your own archery target?

Below we’ve covered lots of different methods for making archery targets.

You can use one or more of these methods for your own targets if you like. Let’s start with the Cardboard Frame Target.

Cardboard Frame Target

DIY Archery Target

Difficulty level: Beginner

As its name suggests, this archery target makes use of a cardboard frame, and it’s filled with stuffing so that your arrows will get caught in them effectively when you make a shot.

What you’ll need

  • Cardboard box
  • Stuffing (can be various items, as explained below)
  • Colorful paint or pens to draw the target on the front

Here are simple steps to follow when making this target.

First, Get The Stuffing

We’ve touched on the fact that you need material in your target that will absorb the arrow while preventing it from getting damaged.

That means the target should be filled with stuffing. Don’t shoot at something hard as that will certainly cause your arrows to become damaged.

For the target stuffing, you can use any kind of soft material, although a really good one to use is foam.

This will ensure that your arrows remain stuck in the foam without getting broken or damaged.

Make The Frame

You need to make a frame for your target, and this can be something like a cardboard box or a frame made out of wood if you want something with greater durability.

To make the frame out of a cardboard box, you should fill the box with the stuffing you’ve already got. Once it’s nice and full, use tape to seal it.

If you don’t have cardboard lying around the house, you could use something like wood instead.

If you’re making the frame with wood, you’ll need to cover the back opening of the wooden frame with something like netting or mesh.

Make sure it’s a fine mesh that your stuffing won’t be able to leak out of, then put in your stuffing.

You should also cover the stuffing with something like cloth so that it won’t come out of the front, either.

For both the cardboard and wood frames, you’ll need to draw a target on cardboard that you’ll then attach to the front.

Pros And Cons Of This Archery Target

Pros

  • You can get cardboard very cheaply, especially if you’re upcycling a cardboard box you already have in your home, such as a box that came with a recent delivery. 
  • The stuffing can be made up of various materials that you don’t need anymore, without you having to purchase anything new. This is a great way to clean up your house and prevent clutter while you’re at it!
  • Using a wood frame will increase this target’s longevity, which is what you want. If you’re going to be doing lots of target practice in your backyard, you want to be sure that you get lots of use out of your targets, otherwise, that will just result in you having to make lots of effort on a regular basis and no one wants that.

Cons

Cardboard isn’t suitable for arrows such as broadhead arrows. This is important to bear in mind, so if you’re going to be using it, then try to use other types of arrows.

On the other hand, if you need something more suitable to broadhead arrows, then you’ll have to use another method, such as a different one that we’ve featured later in this guide.

The Bag Target

DIY Archery Bag Target

Difficulty: Beginner

If you don’t want to have to go through the above steps to make your frame and target, you can easily use a bag as a target.

Simply fill a thick plastic bag that you’re no longer using with soft material such as foam. Set it up and then fire your arrows into it!

That’s really all there is to it. However, there are some important things to bear in mind with this archery target.

Pros

  • It’s really easy to set this target up if you want a quick and simple method. It’s especially good for kids and beginners who are just trying out the sport.

Cons

  • You might have to readjust the bag a few times between shooting. In this case, switching the plastic bag for something like a burlap bag might be a better choice. Still, it might move around a bit, so prop it against something, like a tree trunk or stump, to make it more secure.

Note: Always make sure that if you miss the target your arrow won’t fly past it and hurt someone or damage a car or house. It’s always essential that you’re mindful of where you set up your archery targets, and that’s the case for all types of them.

The Hay Target

Archery Hay

Difficulty: Beginner

Using hay as a target can be very useful.

Bales of hay are usually recommended for use when shooting arrows at home because they’re soft and easy to place around your yard or garden when it’s time for target practice.

However, there are some things to consider.

Pros

  • It’s really easy to make this target because if you purchase hay that’s already compressed, you just have to attach a target on the one side and you’re ready to start shooting your arrows! Nice and easy, which is especially advantageous to you if you don’t want to spend a lot of time making an archery target.

Cons

  • The hay can attract critters, so you don’t want to leave the hay uncovered when it’s not in use.
  • You should always protect your hay from the elements. If hay is exposed to rain, it can become moldy, which you really want to avoid, so hay does require a bit of maintenance to keep it in good shape.

Box Target With Stuffing

Three Arrows In Box Target

Difficulty: Intermediate

You might want to have a target that’s larger in size, but these can sometimes feel like a mission to make yourself.

Instead of going out and purchasing a large archery target, which can easily become expensive, you can make your own without having to spend a lot of money.

This box target that’s been inspired by a tutorial on Elk101.com is a fantastic way to make a durable and effective archery target.

This is a really effective target that you’ll get a lot of use out of.

You need to make two wooden frames – one for the front of your target and one for the back. You’ll then join them to make a box.

You’ll need the following

  • Wood frame (eight pieces to make two frames, one in front and one at the back)
  • Smaller pieces of wood approximately 10 inches in length (these will be the frame’s cross supports and you’ll need 4 of them. Make them larger if you want the frame to be larger)
  • 4 pieces of oriented strand board (to secure the frame)
  • 2 pieces of cardboard
  • Tarp or canvas

Instructions

  • Start with making one frame. Cut four pieces of wood to make a frame.
  • Chamfer their ends with an angle grinder, as this will make it easier to connect them.
  • Now, join the pieces together so that you have four sides of your frame. Use nails to join all the sides of the wood frame. 
  • Make sure the frame is perfectly square by using a tape measure and measuring the square frame diagonally in both directions. If they are equal, the frame is square. If not, then you need to adjust your frame before moving onto the next step.
  • Follow the same process with the second wood frame.
  • Now that you have two wood frames, place them upright on a flat surface and lean their tops together so that you create an A-shape.
  • Now, slot cross supports from one frame to the other by placing them at the bottom of the frames.
  • Nail the cross supports onto the frames. Again, one cross support should be nailed from the bottom of one frame to the bottom of the other one so that they can be connected. This is done to create the box shape of the target.
  • Make sure you do the same thing with two supports on the top of the frame so that you will end up with a proper frame that looks like a box.
  • Cut pieces of oriented strand board that will fit around the four sides of your frame and fills its gap. This is an extra layer of protection for the frame that also makes it more durable. Make sure you keep the back and front of the frame open for now!
  • Cut a piece of cardboard so that it will fit on the back of the wooden frame with nails. The size of it will vary depending on the size of your wooden box.
  • Fill the inside of the wooden box with plastic or foam, basically anything soft that will provide a nice buffer for your arrows. You can even use clothing and rags that you don’t use anymore, and it’s a great way to upcycle old items!
  • Ensure that you have a lot of stuffing for the inside of your box – fill it right up to the top.
  • Once you’re satisfied with the stuffing, cut another piece of cardboard to seal up the front of the frame.
  • Once that’s been nailed in, you should cover the entire box with a strong tarp. This adds another level of protection to your wooden box.
  • You can also paint the front of the tarp so that you have a proper target to shoot!

The great thing about this type of DIY target is that you can make smaller ones if you like and scatter them around your backyard whenever you want to practice shooting. It also eliminates the cons you might encounter with other types of archery targets, such as that they don’t last very long or don’t maintain their shape. This one definitely will and you’ll be able to get tons of use out of it.

Understanding Archery Target Sizes

Man Taking Down Arrows From Target

Now that we’ve looked at how to make your own archery targets, let’s look at different target sizes.

You might want to consider these when building your own targets because they will make your targets feel so much more authentic.

When we speak of a target, we’re speaking of the classic multi-colored design with the colorful rings on it and a gold/yellow bullseye in the center.

It’s good to know that there are actually two types of archery targets.

Usually, a target will be centimeters large, but for the targets that are placed at the 30m and 50m distances, then you want the target to be smaller – 80 centimeters.

Those are probably what you’re going to need in your DIY archery range. When designing your targets, make sure you split up the target into 10 zones or rings.

They all have to be the same size, and that should be 6.1cm wide on the targets that are 122cm and 4cm wide on the 80cm targets, as explained by Sizes.

Draw the rings on your target so that they fit those measurements. Then make the middle rings gold or yellow.

Moving out from these central rings, you want two rings that are red, then two that are blue, two that are black, and finally two that are white. That gives you 10 rings.

What Kind Of Archery Targets Does Pro Archers Use?

Pro Archer

While you might not be able to have a one-on-one with Sara López to find out how she practices archery in her own time, there are some good ways to practice like a pro.

One of these is the use of handles on a target, which makes it much easier to carry around.

While you won’t need this on a target that’s made out of bags or hay, handles can be very useful on a box target as it makes it much more versatile, especially if it’s a large one.

Handles are usually a feature seen on recommended, quality targets you can purchase online, so they’re worth considering when you build your DIY archery targets.

Professional archers won’t want to damage their arrows, so they’ll pay special attention to using the right targets.

These should be made of soft yet durable materials. You don’t want to shoot your arrows at anything too hard that can damage them, as mentioned earlier.

Likewise, you need to be careful when removing your arrows so that you don’t break them.

That’s why, no matter what material you use for your targets, always use an arrow puller to remove them from your targets safely.

Make sure you choose one that’s compatible with various arrow shafts so that it’s more versatile.

Finally, foam targets are a popular choice and suitable for archers who participate in target shooting on a regular basis.

You might wonder how on earth to make a professional foam target, but no worries.

Here’s a tutorial to help you make your very own foam target, and it’s the last one on our list.

The Foam Archery Target

Carrying Archery Target

Difficulty: Advanced

A serious archer will want to practice on a daily basis, sometimes taking hundreds of shots, so it’s important to have a target that will endure all that stress.

That’s where foam comes in.

A good type of foam is open-cell foam. This has its cells linked together and that’s what makes it so absorbent.

When you shoot your arrows into open-cell foam, this foam is both flexible and shock-absorbent, so it can deal with the most powerful shots that you throw at it.

That’s definitely what the pros want!

A great tutorial for a foam target can be found on Instructables. Now, you can always tweak it so that you use the type of foam you want.

This guide uses square foam floor mats, and for good reason.

As the site explains, they’re nice and big but you can also remove them and rearrange them at a later stage, which makes your archery target last a lot longer than something you’d buy at a store.

Basically, this tutorial involves stacking the foam pieces onto a wooden platform. You’ll need to cut wooden pieces and then join them with the use of metal rods.

This creates a solid structure so that you can then stack your foam on the inside and keep it in place.

After using this foam target for a while, you might find that its center starts to look a bit sunken.

This means it’s time to loosen the rods’ nuts and rearrange the foam pieces.

That’s what’s so great about this method – you really do increase the lifespan of this target.

Just make sure that when you’re constructing this target you always ensure that you’re enabling it to be adjusted in future.

Related Questions

What arrows are best for beginners?

Whether you’re a beginner or professional, you should always choose arrows that are suitable for your bow’s weight and your draw length.

This will make using it safe and comfortable for you.

Can you shoot broadhead arrows into foam?

If you love shooting broadhead arrows, shooting them into foam is probably your best bet.

Of course, doing this too much will eventually shred the foam, but you won’t damage your arrows, which is the most important thing.

Conclusion

As you can see in this guide, there are many different ways to make an archery target.

Some will only last a short amount of time, while others will be more durable.

The types of targets you choose will depend on the amount of time and energy you have to dedicate to making an archery target as well as how often you’ll want to use it for target practice.

Whatever you choose, you’ve now got the options you need.

Best of all, this article makes it clear to see that you really don’t need a lot of money or items in order to make useful archery targets and start using them.

Happy shooting!

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